NHS staff and other key workers will be tested for coronavirus – but the Scottish Government will stop checking all people who are self-isolating with symptoms.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has also announced that the Scottish NHS has acquired a total of 700 ventilators and is part of a UK-wide approach to obtaining more equipment for frontline staff.

She said: “We have already commissioned additional ventilators to ensure that we have a full and proper supply.

“We are also connected to the UK Government and the four-nation approach in terms of looking at ongoing  supply on ventilators and other issues  - personal protective equipment and so on.


“At the moment we have already instigated a commission of additional ventilators.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that frontline workers will be actively tested for coronavirus to rule them out from having the disease.

She said: “Until now, we have only be testing people if they fit a particular case definition. That has changed as different parts of the world have been affected by this. In simple terms we have been testing people if they have particular symptoms and particular travel history.

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“It is likely that the numbers we have been reporting are under-estimates of the spread of the infection so far. As we ask people with mild symptoms to self-isolate, it is not feasible, nor is it the best use of resources, to test absolutely  everyone.

“Because we are asking people with symptoms to self-isolate, testing everyone is not necessarily adding to the protection of the public that self-isolation is  designed to deliver.

“That said, it is our intention to continue to test large number of people, in order that we are able to monitor the spread and the profile of how the infection is behaving.“

The First Minister said that a surveillance system is being expanded to cover GP practices that have around 1.2 million patients on their lists.

She said: “People with symptoms in hospital will continue to be tested. Our GP sentinel surveillance system, which we use routinely to mon flu every year, is being significantly expanded.

“The information that we get from that will allow us to report on the spread and profile of coronavirus. That will be a far most robust indicator than the figures we have been publishing so far.

“In Scotland, it is our intention to test key workers including critical frontline NHS staff to ensure that the people that are so essential to managing the disease but also keeping our critical infrastructure going, are not self-isolating unnecessarily. That will be a key part of our response.”

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Chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood added that the GP practices have been selected “scientifically to be a snapshot of what the virus would be doing in the whole of the Scottish population”.

Leaders expect there to be a dramatic increase in cases by using the different model.